SECOND REGULAR SESSION

House Resolution No. 333

96TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES WYATT (Sponsor), REDMON, CURTMAN, KOENIG AND TAYLOR (Co-sponsors).

5261L.01I

ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT

 

            WHEREAS, Judge Russell E. Steele is a circuit judge in the Second Judicial Circuit of Missouri, wholly situated in the Counties of Adair, Knox, and Lewis; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele has been serving in that position since 1997; and

 

            WHEREAS, Article VII, Section 1, Missouri Constitution provides:

"All elective executive officials of the state, and judges of the supreme court, courts of appeals and circuit courts shall be liable to impeachment for crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office."; and

 

            WHEREAS, while Judge Russell E. Steele has been accused of numerous violations of Missouri Supreme Court Rule 2, Code of Judicial Conduct, Judge Steele's conduct also indicates possible violations of the Missouri criminal code; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele may have committed the crime of perjury by lying under oath to Federal Judge E. Richard Webber in the case of Heartland Christian Academy Community Church v. Waddle, 317 F.Supp.2d 984 (E.D. 8th Cir. Mo. 2004); and

 

            WHEREAS, Section 575.040, RSMo, establishes the elements of the crime of perjury:

"575.040. 1. A person commits the crime of perjury if, with the purpose to deceive, he knowingly testifies falsely to any material fact upon oath or affirmation legally administered, in any official proceeding before any court, public body, notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths.

2. A fact is material, regardless of its admissibility under rules of evidence, if it could substantially affect, or did substantially affect, the course or outcome of the cause, matter or proceeding.

3. Knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of this crime, and it is no defense that:

(1) The defendant mistakenly believed the fact to be immaterial; or

(2) The defendant was not competent, for reasons other than mental disability or immaturity, to make the statement.

4. It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection 1 of this section that the actor retracted the false statement in the course of the official proceeding in which it was made provided he did so before the falsity of the statement was exposed. Statements made in separate hearings at separate stages of the same proceeding, including but not limited to statements made before a grand jury, at a preliminary hearing, at a deposition or at previous trial, are made in the course of the same proceeding.

5. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of retraction under subsection 4 of this section.

6. Perjury committed in any proceeding not involving a felony charge is a class D felony.

7. Perjury committed in any proceeding involving a felony charge is a class C felony unless:

(1) It is committed during a criminal trial for the purpose of securing the conviction of an accused for murder, in which case it is a class A felony; or

(2) It is committed during a criminal trial for the purpose of securing the conviction of an accused for any felony except murder, in which case it is a class B felony."; and

 

            WHEREAS, in addition, Russell E. Steele may have committed the crime of tampering with a witness by threatening a member of the Missouri Bar with a Bar complaint regarding information the Bar member may have possessed in connection with a grand jury investigation of Judge Steele and/or Judge Steele's Juvenile Office; and

 

            WHEREAS, the herein described examples of conduct exhibited by Russell E. Steele regarding potential violations of the Missouri criminal code and Missouri Supreme Court Rule 2, Code of Judicial Conduct constitute "corruption in office" and "offenses involving moral turpitude or oppression in office"; and

 

            WHEREAS, even if the Judge's motives are not malicious, but that he simply does not understand the clear dictates of his Canons of Ethics adopted by the Missouri Supreme Court, then he is guilty of "incompetence"; and

 

            WHEREAS, Missouri Supreme Court Rule 2.03, Canon 3 provides that "A Judge Shall Perform the Duties of Judicial Office Impartially and Diligently"; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 1A; Rule 2.03, Canon 2A and 2B; and Rule 2.03, Canon 3E(1) by entering an order that was contrary to established Missouri case law, statutory law, and/or regulatory law in favor of Paul Rick Jackson in Adair County, Case Number CV105-16CC as prior to entering that order, Judge Steele was a law partner with Mr. Jackson. Judge Steele recused himself some months thereafter knowing of the inherent conflict and appearance of impropriety. Such acts by Judge Steele thereby constitute an appearance of impropriety and undermine the promotion of public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 2A and 2B; Rule 2.03, Canon 3C; and Rule 2.03, Canon 3C(4) by appointing his former law partner's firm, which included his former law clerk, of which at least one was a political contributor to Judge Steele's campaign. Judge Steele made such appointments to county-taxpayer-paid positions before his juvenile court. Such appointments undermine the promotion of public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and were the result of the improper influence of Judge Steele's relationship with Paul Rick Jackson and Tim Reuschel; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 1A; Rule 2.03, Canon 2A; Rule 2.03, Canon 3B(2), 3B(4), and 3B(11) by threatening Clifford B. Mayberry, a member of the Missouri Bar, with a bar complaint in regard to information Mr. Mayberry may have possessed in connection with a grand jury investigation of Judge Steele and/or Judge Steele's juvenile office. Such conduct is not only a violation of a Missouri Judge's Canon of Ethics, but may constitute witness tampering in violation of the Missouri Criminal Code; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated rule 2.03, Canon 4A and Rule 2.03, Canon 3C by maintaining a romantic relationship with his assistant, Tonya Lutz; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 4E in serving as attorney for his mother, Helen Steele, in preparing and having her execute a real estate deed in favor of Judge Steele's brother, Philip Steele, to the detriment of his sisters, Ruth Valentine and Kathryn Draper. The deed was executed by Helen Steele, notarized by Judge Steele's romantic partner and secretary, Tonya Lutz, which Judge Steele had delivered for recordation some time after his mother's death without delivering the deed to Philip Steele and without advising his sisters of their mother's execution of the deed in an effort to secret the deed from his sisters; and

 

            WHEREAS, while an attorney licensed in the State of Missouri, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 4 of the Professional Code of Ethics by having an ex parte communication with then-Judge Bruce Normile in an Adair County case entitled Losey v. Grissom pertaining to issues regarding a potential conflict of interest and actions to be taken regarding attorney David A. Masters. Such conduct was without the presence of Mr. Masters or any other parties involved in the matter and such contact was not within any exception to the applicable rule at the time; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated rule 2.03, Canon 3B(11) by obtaining information regarding a grand jury investigation of Judge Steele's juvenile office and using such information obtained to threaten at least one potential witness and/or attorney who possessed information against him and/or his Juvenile Office; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 3C(2) by allowing repeated public comments by his Chief Juvenile Officer on matters involving pending criminal and juvenile cases arising from alleged abuse of children resulting in the removal of several juveniles from the Heartland Christian Academy in 2001; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 3B(9) by making public comments about Judge Webber's opinion issued in Heartland Christian Academy Community Church v. Waddle, 317 F.Supp.2d 984 (E.D. 8th Cir. Mo. 2004); and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 3B(5) by allowing those under his control to engage in conduct that manifested bias or prejudice based upon religion in allowing his Chief Juvenile Officer to engage in a campaign against faith-based programs and specifically Heartland Christian Academy Community Church; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 1; Rule 2.03, Canon 3B(2); Rule 2.01; Rule 2.03, Canon 2B in issuing a search warrant and refusing to quash the same for his juvenile officers to search and seize items pursuant to the warrant for documents possessed by Heartland Christian Academy Community Church that clearly did not comply with Section 542.271, RSMo, and was not issued in furtherance of any criminal investigation; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 3C by appointing his Chief Juvenile Officer, Mike Waddle, to a county-paid position of juvenile court services administrator after Mr. Waddle was found to have offered perjured testimony before Judge E. Richard Webber in Heartland Christian Academy Community Church v. Waddle, 317 F.Supp.2d 984 (E.D. 8th Cir. Mo. 2004); and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 2A by threatening State Representative Zachary Wyatt by presenting himself to Representative Wyatt's District Office stating that he was upset with Representative Wyatt, that he knew Representative Wyatt had requested Judge Steele's campaign disclosure reports, and demanded Representative Wyatt disclose why he was looking at such reports; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 1A and Rule 2.03, Canon 2A by using Gary Rogers, who at the time was a public employee, for Judge Steele's personal purposes in working on Judge Steele's personal residence while and during such times that Mr. Rogers was employed by the Adair County Juvenile Office; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 2A and 2B; Rule 2.03, Canon 1A; and Rule 2.03, Canon 4A by acquiring a cell phone at taxpayer's expense through the Adair County Juvenile Office for use by his secretary, with whom Judge Steele was conducting an extramarital affair, in order to secret such relationship; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violate Rule 2.03, Canon 3 by not being faithful to the law and not maintaining competence in the law by allowing a person who had previously pled guilty to a sex offense in violation of Missouri law to withdraw his guilty plea in that matter, and allow the prosecuting attorney to dismiss the matter so that he was relieved of the requirements to register as a sex offender under the federal law known as "Adam Walsh Law", which is contrary to the intent and spirit of that law; and

 

            WHEREAS, Russell E. Steele violated Rule 2.03, Canon 3 by not being faithful to the law and not maintaining competence in the law by allowing a person who had previously pled guilty to a sex offense in violation of Missouri law and a person who was not a United States citizen to violate the conditions of his probation, and thereafter in not revoking his suspended imposition of sentence so that he would not be deported under federal immigration laws; and

 

            WHEREAS, by the acts described herein, Russell E. Steele oppressively, incompetently, and/or corruptly committed the same:

 

            NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that it is the Order and Judgment of the Missouri House of Representatives, Ninety-sixth General Assembly, that Judge Russell E. Steele shall stand trial before the Missouri Supreme Court for violation of Article VII, Section 1 of the Missouri Constitution due to misconduct, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, and/or oppression in office; and

 

            BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chief Clerk of the Missouri House of Representatives be instructed to prepare properly inscribed copies of this resolution for Judge Russell E. Steele and the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.